The Department of Geosciences presents

Geology Open Night

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Fall 2005 Offerings

Open night lectures are usually on topics in the geosciences related to the current research of the faculty, staff and students at SUNY Stony Brook. These presentations are intended for:

  • those interested in new developments in the sciences

  • earth science high school students and teachers

  • undergraduate and graduate students in geosciences

  • professional geologists

In-service Credit is available for teachers attending the Geology Open Night lectures.

We will be having Geology Open Nights on


September 23, 2005
October 21, 2005
November 18, 2005

7:30 to 8:30 p.m. 
Earth and Space Sciences Building 
Lecture Hall (Room 001)
SUNY Stony Brook Campus

How do I get to the Earth and Space Sciences Building at SUNY Stony Brook?


You may also be interested in Astronomy Open Night lectures the first Friday of the month, The Worlds of Physics lectures the second Friday of the month and The Living World the third Friday of the month In-service credit is also available for teachers for attending these lectures.

A single point entry to all of the science open night lectures is available at this link

All of these lectures are in ESS 001 Lecture Hall

There will be Refreshments and Demonstrations after the Geology Open Night Presentations.

Admission is Free!!

Web pages describing earlier Geology Open Night presentations

Spring 1998Fall 1998, Spring 1999, Fall 1999, Spring 2000, Fall 2000, Spring 2001

Fall 2001, Spring 2002, Fall 2002, Spring 2003, Fall 2003Spring 2004, Fall 2004, Spring 2005


Prof. William Holt

Measuring Tectonic Plate Motion
in Real Time

7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Friday September 23, 2005

7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Friday October 21, 2005

Prof. Martin Schoonen

Medical Geology

7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Friday November 18, 2005

Tomorrow’s Next Continental Block-buster:
Measuring Deformation in Real Time

Professor William Holt

Friday September 23, 2005
7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

An exciting new application of global positioning systems (GPS) technology allows for fine scale investigations of global plate tectonic motions and interactions. Continuous GPS stations now provide real-time measurements of displacement. This advancement has made it possible to not only study present day large-scale plate motions and interactions all around the globe, but also to focus on diffuse plate boundaries. The plate boundary zone in the Western United States accommodates the relative motions between the North American and Pacific plates. Strain in the Earth's crust that accommodates this relative motion between the plates is released in occasional large earthquakes. In this talk I will cover new advances in monitoring the ongoing strain pattern in the plate boundary zone, using continuous GPS data. A relatively dense array of continuous GPS instruments delineate strain patterns in the crust in California that appear to change on time scales of weeks to months. These transient features of crustal strain are providing new insights into the driving forces that ultimately may influence earthquake location and timing within the plate boundary zone.

Over the past 10 years Prof. Holt has been working on methods that relate the distribution of strain within continental interiors to the relative motions of the tectonic plates. He has served on numerous national and international panels and was one of the founders of UNAVCO, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides equipment support for global positioning system research related to measuring tectonic movements.

UNAVCO, Inc. web site

Coastal flooding early warning system for
Metropolitan New York and Long Island


Prof. Malcolm Bowman

7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Friday October 21, 2005


Significant portions of the coastal margins of New York City, Long Island and northern New Jersey are particularly prone to serious flooding due to the low topography and gentle slopes of the surrounding coastal plain. The shape and orientation of Long Island Sound makes it a natural funnel for northeast winds to blow into and pile up water in the western Sound during major storm events. Such set ups then propagate into New York Harbor through the East River. Northeast winds over the coastal Atlantic Ocean also raise sea level against the south coast of Long Island due to the Coriolis force, further driving storm waters into New York Harbor.

The research objective of the Stony Brook Storm Surge Group is to determine how effective storm surge barriers might be in protecting the New York Metropolitan area from extreme storm events in an era of global climate change and rising sea levels. Our approach is to couple a storm surge ocean model with a mesoscale weather-forecasting model, to predict the flooding that can result from future hurricanes and nor’easters. The group is currently developing an operational coastal flooding hazard warning system, designed to significantly improve current methods of forecasting the location, timing and severity of storm events.

Malcolm Bowman is a Distinguished Service Professor in the Marine Science Research Center. His research interests focus on the dynamics of coastal fronts, eddies, island wakes and coastal sea straits. His approach uses a combination of observations and model simulations to describe dynamically fundamental physical processes in shallow seas and estuaries. He is interested in how these processes control and influence the structure and production of the marine food chain from phytoplankton up to and including fish.

Operational Coastal Flooding Early Warning System for Metropolitan New York and Long Island

Medical Geology

Prof. Martin Schoonen

7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Friday November 18, 2005

Human health is affected by a complex web of interactions with the natural and built environment. Epidemiological studies indicate that earth materials and metals/metalloids associated with earth materials can have a profound effect on human health. Relevant examples include the prevalence of stomach cancer in parts of Wales, selenium deficiency in China, and, more tenuous, the prevalence of multiple sclerosis clusters in Canada and elsewhere. However, the fundamental mechanisms by which earth materials and associated metals/metalloids interfere with the normal functioning of organisms at the molecular and cellular level is not understood. The complexity of this problem requires an interdisciplinary approach that draws upon concepts and methods common in the soil science, geochemistry, and environmental science, combined with concepts and methods common in the biomedical research community. Stony Brook researchers, led by Martin Schoonen, have started a new program that addresses questions at the interface of earth sciences and biomedical sciences. In this presentation, the emerging field of Medical Geology will be introduced and some example of recent research in this area will be presented.

 Martin Schoonen is Professor of Geochemistry and Associate VP for Research. His research group is supported by NSF, NASA, EPA, and DOE. The common theme in his research is the role minerals may play as catalysts. In the context of Medical Geology, he is interested in understanding the reactivity of minerals toward genetic molecules, RNA and DNA, and human cells.



In-service credit available for teachers

If your school requires that you have a sequence of educational opportunities in order to receive in-service credit, please advise them that during the Fall Semester we will be offering one-hour of in-service credit for each of the:

Three Geology Open Nights
Usually meets fourth or last Friday of month 

Four Astronomy Open Nights
Website for more information is:
Meets first Friday of month

Four The Worlds of Physics - 
Web site for more information is:
Meets second Friday of month

Three The Living World
Website for more information is:


Geology Open Night, Astronomy Open Night, The Worlds of Physics and the Living World meet in ESS 001 at 7:30 p.m.

We will offer up to 7.5 hours of in-service credit for the Long Island Geologists field trip in Fall

Information is available on the Long Island Geologists web site is:

A more printable description of in-service credit offerings can be found at this link.

There will be Refreshments and Demonstrations after the Presentations.

Admission is FREE!

Presentations are in Room 001 ESS Building SUNY Stony Brook

How do I get to the Earth and Space Sciences Building at SUNY Stony Brook?